Reusable rocket

Russia is preparing a new breakthrough in space technology

After loudly rasparenny accidents Russian “Protons”, one might say, even indecent to write about the real situation. Including about the new prospects of Russian space, about really amazing projects that successfully pass the stages of its journey into the sky.

So at TSAGI tested aerodynamic model of the new reusable space rocket system (MRKS-1). Press center TSAGI has posted a picture of this model. Its external appearance resembles a reusable space vehicles, such as our “Buran” or the American Space Shuttle. But the resemblance should not cheat. Mkrs-1 is a completely different system. It essentially other ideology that is qualitatively different from previous projects. In fact ― it’s reusable booster! But everything in order.

To the first generation of reusable space systems include five apparatus of the type Space Shuttle, several domestic series BOR and Buran. They and we, and the Americans tried to make himself reusable spacecraft (the last stage, directly in the output space). The objectives were the following: reducing the cost of placing into orbit of the payload return from space a substantial amount of useful goods, maintaining complex and expensive spacecraft for multiple uses, reusable castigatus stage.

But the first generation reusable systems are unable to solve their problems with enough efficiency. The unit cost of access to space was about three times higher than disposable rockets. The return from space of goods is not radically increased. Resource reusable stages was significantly lower than the calculated one, which is not allowed to use them in the busy schedule of launches. As a result now and the astronauts and the satellites are delivered to orbit disposable rocket systems. To return from orbit expensive apparatus and equipment have nothing. Only the Americans for military purposes made myself a small automatic X-37B payload ton. It is clear to all that the new reusable system needs to be qualitatively different from the first generation.

We have work underway on several reusable systems. It is clear that the most promising will be the so-called aerospace system. That is, ideally, a spacecraft should fly from the airfield like a normal airplane to go into orbit and return back, spending only fuel. But this is the most complex project that requires many preliminary studies and technical solutions. This option cannot be implemented quickly by any country. Although we have a large scientific and technical reserve for such projects. For example, “aerospace plane” Tu-2000 was a fairly detailed study. Its implementation was prevented by the absence only of some complex and critical components. And, of course, the lack of funding in the 90-ies.

There is an intermediate option, when the system consists of a reusable booster and same reusable spacecraft. Such systems were designed in the Soviet era, such as “Spiral”. There are more new developments. However, this schema reusable space system requires a sufficiently long cycle of research and development efforts on numerous fronts.

Program MRKS-1 officially stands for “reusable space-rocket system of the first stage”. Despite the “first stage”, the system will be completely functional. Just within a large overall programme of development of new space systems it has the closest deadlines. So, what is the MRKS-1?

The system will be twofold. It is designed for launch into earth orbit of any spacecraft (automatic, manned, transport) weighing 25-35 tons, and both existing and being created. This is more than “Protons”. But the principal difference from current launch vehicles are not. And that the MRKS-1 is not disposable. The first step (depicted in the picture published TSAGI) will not fall to the ground in pieces or burn up in the atmosphere. Breaking second stage (one-time) and useful load, it landed like the space Shuttle of the last century. Today is the most perspective way of improvement of space transportation systems.

In fact it will be phased upgrade expendable launch vehicle “Angara”. In fact, she was born MRKS-1 as a further development of the project Khrunichev them. M. V. Khrunichev. There, together with the NGO “Lightning” was developed reusable accelerator first stage of the carrier rocket “Angara”, named “Baikal” (the layout was shown at MAKS-2001). He used the same automatic control system that allowed “Buran” to fly without a crew. It provides tracking of the flight at all stages ― from the moment of launch to landing on the airfield. This system will be adapted and MRKS-1.

In contrast to the “Baikal” MRKS-1 will have a folding of the plane (the wings), and the installed hard. This will reduce the probability of emergency situations when you leave the landing ellipse. However, recently tested the design of reusable accelerator will change still. Head of aerothermodynamics LA high-speed TSAGI Sergey Drozdov said that “unexpected high heat flow on the center wing section — this will entail changing the design of the device” . In September-October model of MRKS-1 will be tested in hypersonic (ADT T-116) and transonic (ADT T-128) wind tunnels.

In the second phase of the program will make reusable and the second stage and the payload mass is expected to increase to 60 tons. However, the creation of reusable accelerator even only the first stage is a real breakthrough in the development of space transportation systems. And most importantly ― we go to this breakthrough, keeping its status as a leading space power.

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